Mom 4 Good Health

Mom 4 Good Health

Tummy time is an incredibly important playtime for every baby. After all, it’s recommended that babies be put to sleep on their backs and they must have supervised “tummy time” during the day. While tummy time can be on any kind of surface, such as a carpeted floor or the baby’s crib (with a fitted sheet and nothing else in the crib), there are certain play mats that make tummy time more interesting and more comfortable for the baby.

Activity Gyms are a Great Play Mat for Newborns

The toys on activity gyms help develop baby''s grabbing skills.

For newborns and infants who are still working on their head and neck strength, activity gyms are a wonderful option for playtime mats. These gyms usually consist of a soft, padded floor quilt and arms that arch above it; on these arms are a variety of toys. These toys can range from simple plastic rattles to hanging soft animals to mirrors; some of the more expensive gyms even offer music, lights, and spinning objects.

These gyms don’t have to take up floor space all the time. Some do fold up easily for storage or travel, like the Tiny Love Lights and Music gym or the Infantino Square Twist and Fold Gym, however, not all gyms do. If you have limited floor space, it might be a good idea to get an activity gym that stores easily.

The great thing about these activity gyms is that baby can be on her back or on her stomach; the toys hang for easy grabbing when she’s on her back and if she’s learning how to keep her head up while on her stomach, can capture and hold her attention. They’re a safe place for baby and encourages the strengthening of her neck muscles.

But what about when baby is learning to roll over? The arms can get in the way, and if baby is strong enough to roll over, it may be time to upgrade to a different playtime mat.

Play Mats for Babies Learning to Roll Over or Crawl

My 5-month-old son has mastered rolling over and loves being on his tummy. He’s even started to scoot backwards and isn’t very far from beginning to crawl. We’re currently in a house with a very low carpet that isn’t easily-vacuumed. Even when it is vacuumed, the carpet retains most of the shedded hairs from myself and the cats, and when my son grabs the carpet, he’s grabbing up fistfuls of this hair. It wouldn’t be such a problem if he didn’t always bring his hands to his mouth!

The activity gym is now too small for him and his mobility. I’ve tried quilts and large blankets to prevent him from picking up these hairs, but he ends up grabbing the blanket and either covering himself in it or he stuffs the blanket into his mouth.

A great and versatile play mat for when baby is learning to roll over or crawl.
A great and versatile play mat for when baby is learning to roll over or crawl. Sold on Amazon.com.

So I bought a set of 4 play mats. There were a lot of play time mats that were cuter, but involved many small pieces and/or had pieces that children could pull out easily. I wanted a safe surface for my son to play on that didn’t involve a lot of picking up or assembling. The mats I bought have been perfect in that regard, and are so versatile that I can use it outside on the patio. If they get dirty or wet with drool, I just wipe them down with a diaper wipe or paper towel. If any of my hair gets on them, I just brush it off the mat. The tiles aren’t cold, so it’s a nice place for my son to take a nap if my daughter is using her Nap Nanny.

As far as size goes, those 4 play mats are the perfect size for our living room. It gives my son plenty of space to roll over, though sometimes he does end up at the edge because of his scooting backwards. Another great thing about these mats? We adults can use them as exercise or yoga mats. I’d refrain from using shoes on them, especially high heels, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do a few sit-ups on them.